This year I volunteered to once again cook feast for our key SCA event of the year in the Barony, Feast of the Hare. It was a scaled down, 1 remove feast compared to some of the others I’ve done in the past which was kinda nice and a little less insane.
Our current Majesties are having Russian reign and the document matching their time period which I turned to in order to plan the feast was The Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible.
There are plenty of lists of the foods eaten at various times of the year and I tried to create the menu in accordance with the foods that would have been eaten in October/November. The ones I chose were salmon, chicken, turnips, beets and kasha. However, while lots of dishes and foods are listed the book is very lacking in actual recipes. It does have one for a Baked Turnip Pudding.
Take a turnip in good condition and cut it into thin slices. Thread them in a line so that the slices do not touch one another as they dry, and hang them in the sun or in a warm oven where bread has just been baked. They should not be watery; let them dry out well. Mash the dried slices and push the puree through a sieve. Put the turnip in a clay pot.
Take clear, light-coloured honey (make sure it has not fermented) and boil it, skimming off any foam. Pour the boiled honey into the turnip puree – as much honey as you have puree. Add nutmeg, cloves, pepper and saffron in such measure that no one spice dominates, nor is it overspiced. Seal the clay pot with dough, and steam it in the oven for two days and two nights. Then in will be good to eat. But if it is too liquid, add more turnip puree. It should be the gesture of a lump of caviar.
There is also an online redaction of the recipe that skips the drying and presses the moisture out of the turnip.
I pulled elements from both sources to do my version of the Turnip Pudding. I did slice the turnips thin, but laid them on cookie sheets and dried them in the oven after baking some cakes and then overnight with the light on, it’s impressive the gentle heat that is created by the light and then it isn’t required to have the oven actually on for a long duration of time. They weren’t crispy dry, but rubbery like dried apples.
I then put the turnips through my woefully inadequate food processor. This was the step that I wish I could have done better, my turnip was less of a puree and more like very finely minced turnip.
I mixed that turnip with an equal amount of honey and spiced it with cloves, nutmeg, pepper and saffron and put it in a glass baking dish. I made a dough of flour and water that I used to seal the top. The glass dish was handy in that I was able to see how the baking process was progressing without taking off the pastry lid. I baked it at 300F for a total of 4 hours.
The dish was only served to the head table although I likely could have also set a small dish to each of the other tables with a spoonful or two for tasting. It certainly isn’t the sort of dish that one would eat a large serving of. It was certainly different.